United States space agency NASA plans to send first mini-helicopter to Mars

Ismael LynchMay 13, 2018

With Mars In Sight [VIDEO] having departed for the Red Planet for a late November landing, NASA is preparing for the Mars 2020 rover, an enhanced version of the Mars Curiosity that is now rolling about the Martian surface. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine [VIDEO] announced on Twitter that the Mars 2020 would have another enhancement. Solar cells will charge the tiny drone during the day, and an internal heater will help it endure the cold Martian nights.

They further informed that it took 4 years for the team to design, test and redesign the Marscopter that weighs in at little under four pounds (1.8 kilograms).

The Mars helicopter will not be manned, but it will operate autonomously, in a way similar to a flying drone here on Earth.

Mars's atmosphere is 100 times thinner than the Earth's atmosphere, which could make flying a helicopter very hard. On Mars, however, the atmosphere at the surface is comparable to the Earth's atmosphere at 100,000 feet. The Red Planet will be examined through the eyes of twenty-three cameras.

"The idea of a helicopter flying in the sky of another planet is exciting".

But don't let its cute stature fool you; this little fellow packs a lot of power and its twin blades are able to rotate 10 times faster than what we normally see here on Earth, reaching nearly 3,000 revolutions per minute. It will be the first helicopter on another planet.

After the rover lands, it will place the helicopter on the ground and retreat to a safe distance.

While the helicopter has been deemed a high-risk, high-reward operation, NASA employees say that if it fails, it will not impact the 2020 mission.

The helicopter is supposed to be used to achieve points on the surface of Mars, where you will not be able to get the Rover.

They hope that it will prove the technology for future flight explorations of Mars and provide more data on the atmosphere.

"To make it fly at that low atmospheric density, we had to scrutinise everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and as powerful as it can possibly be".

Since the human operators on Earth will be several light minutes away from the helicopter, the vehicle will conduct its own missions based on the instructions from the scientists.

On its first flight, the helicopter will make a short vertical climb to 10 feet, where it will hover for about 30 seconds.

Mars 2020 is slated to launch in July of that year on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and the mission should arrive at Mars in February 2021.

The rover is created to carry out geological studies and ascertain the habitability of the Martian environment, NASA said.

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